Well, at the point the animal becomes intelligent it would already have spend some of those feats... and allowing it to retrain... okay, I don't think your GM will have any trouble with you using leadership to improve your familiar.
Well, let's see.
9. (item creation) You are actually creating more of a problem here. In most campaigns there is not enough downtime to craft an item. It takes a day per 1,000gp, and how often do you stay in a place for a month? I'd simply add the requirement of a lab to craft any items and remove the rule. Certainly being able to sell everything for the full price will leave the party with a lot more money during the campaign.
10. (guns) Depending on your interest in guns in the game, it would be reasonable to give guns more realistic reload times. Even emerging guns assumes late 19th/early 20th century gun tech.
11. (age) Drastic. Not sure if I agree. Each age category lowers how much you can carry, lowers AC, lowers reflex and fortitude save, lowers attack roles, less hp, and so on. That's a lot to give up for more spells... perhaps the problem if less with the spellcasters and more with leaving them unmolested at all times. Spellcasters are already more fragile than other classes, with high age that just becomes more severe.
12. (ability scores) The array is the equivalent of 36 point buy. Making the 18 a 16, it would still be a 29 point array. I can't see anyone taking 25 point buy as an alternative, even if the array is less than ideal. They would surrender a lot of power doing so.
14. (dm rolls) A good idea, but slow if you use dice. You almost need to setup a computer program to roll the check for everyone at once or you will slow down things a lot.
15. (metamagic rods) Marginally useful at best. Given the prices for the rods and their limitations, the effect isn't that great. Be sure they are used according to rules before you start banning them.
17. (full bab) Okay, why would anyone play a fighter now? Or a ranger? Or a barbarian? Even a Paladin becomes questionable. Unless you want a party that is mostly rogue/monk. I'd give the full bab classes at least 4 skill points/level and a feat to compensate. And even that might not be enough to keep things level.
19. (free two weapon feats) Combined with 17, you will have an awful number of sneak attacks every round. That's what? Up to seven sneak attacks per round at level 16... before any tricks. A rogue would expect to do 45d6 + 40 (or more) in damage every round. That's an average of ~200/round with potential to do more than twice that.
No. The details are known or at least guessed at by the few people that care about what happened so many thousand years ago. With appropriate knowledge checks the players should even figure out that the asteroid is the Starstone and now rests in Absalom. Of course that knowledge is far more common among PF players than among the people living on Galarion, but it's not quite secret history.
Three PCs should be able to handle most situations, since they'll level faster, but keep in mind the action economy. They have one action per round less than a four person party; if one goes down they'll loose a third of their power, rather than a quarter.
Well, if the player is somewhat decent, then attempting to redeem the evil character, especially an evil cleric, would make for a lot of good RP. As long as the character can convert to neutral (or even LE), this should make for a lot of fun.
Of course this requires a well thought out background for the evil cleric, but I'd require that for any evil character anyway. And for any chaotic one, for that matter.
How to handle eight players depends on how much time you can invest. The ideas given are decent, but as mentioned they will make for long combats. Even without summoning spells and the like.
Most important, avoid unnecessary combat. So no random encounters. If they are facing a trivial encounter, don't use the combat system to solve it, but tell them that they encounter ten goblins and ask them how they killed them; award XP based on how well they told the story. Nothing if it was boring, full XP if it was a good story; if they tell a compelling story and maybe use up resources (spells, potions, ...) maybe as much as twice appropriate XP.
I'd suggest you leave the mook fights as they are. The size limitations in most places will hinder a large group enough that they'll have problems bringing their numbers to bear. At most I'd add 50% more mooks to somewhat increase the challenge - maybe more, but then I'd combine several fights into one.
Important fights I'd have a good look at and decide to either boost the encounter by adding more critters, or replacing them with thematically fitting creatures of higher CR. For example, instead of stone giants, they might be facing Frost Giants or even Fire Giants.
The real problem will be Boss fights. That's where you'll need to do the most work. As a general rule of thumb I'd add a level; if you have high damage PCs, perhaps 20% extra HP. Don't forget to give them appropriate extra treasure - some one use protection items would be especially useful. For spell users, give them extra AOE spells - browse the SRD and look for new AOE spells you don't commonly use to keep it fresh. Every baddy may use AOE spells, but they use a wide variety of them.
In general I wouldn't increase the size of places. The limited space will restrict how much the PC and monster can do, and that will speed up combat. This will probably result in more than average use of ranged weapons, so consider your ranged options ahead of time.
Without question Runelords.
Kingmaker is an AP that can be great, but it requires the players to not only buy into the campaign, but actively drive it and create their own story. Without a good background and ambitions beyond following the plot, it becomes rather mediocre.
From a DM POV, Runelords is also a lot easier to run. Kingmaker needs a lot of modification to make sense (foreshadowing the BBEG, far more random encounter in the wild to show why these lands are unsettled, foreign relations, several earlier Rushlight festivals, political developments in Brevoy, attending the council of the River Kings, many new NPCs to give player neighbors, etc). In a way Kingmaker is a good outline of events that will happen in the campaign, but after the first book the main drive of the campaign will/should be on players (and NPCs) creating their story. The books tend to become background to the real focus of the story, and the DM needs to make up/go along with that story.
This makes Kingmaker the perfect AP for experienced groups that want to create an epic story and know how to create characters that allow for great roleplaying - and how to create characters that form a good group.
Oh, and an absolute must for Kingmaker is enjoyment of intrigue and ability to build characters that are suited for combat and social situations. Building your kingdom means a lot of interacting with NPCs. And politics. Various religions vying for influence (mostly peacefully, but some aren't above covered actions). Courtly intrigue, possibly including assassinations and other attempts to get ahead. And let's not forget the bureaucracy; and all those that may buy influence there. Or ideological clashes among its members.
It can make for great games, but it will take a lot of commitment from the players and isn't really suited as introduction. You can easily end up with over 100 important NPCs and several hundred more named NPCs.
Runelord on the other hand is classic roleplaying. You are a band of traveling heroes working against a big evil. It's a great story, but the scope is limited enough that it's easy for players and DM to keep track of everything. There aren't really any important NPCs that will be there from beginning to end; the closest will be Sandpoint based NPCs the players want to hang out with.
Which is my point. The Kingdom roll was an abstraction of the numerous rolls your leaders would be making throughout the month, an abstraction for charisma based skill checks. It would be more realistic to average several skills and take that as modifier, but Paizo went for simply attribute instead. Since the circlet adds to every roll involving CHA, adding it to the abstraction of all those rolls makes sense to me.
And yes, penalties would stack. Ability drain, negative levels, long lasting effects from critical hits, curses, whatever. The penalties they impose would affect the kingdom.
Essentially, the AP, like all others, is designed for 4 PCs, but playing with 5 makes almost no difference. If the DM simply leaves things as they are, the reduced treasure and lower XP will keep everything working.
Of course, if the DM prefers to run for only four players to allow for more roleplaying or simply does not feel capable of running five PC, that is his right. Or if he simply doesn't want more people over at his house.
Direct your DM here, if he has any questions about running it for more than four players, but respect whatever decision he makes.
While the idea of straight income is a decent one, keep in mind that there is a strict limit of how many items you can sell each month. With simple income, the players are far better off. FAR BETTER!
I've just reread the actual rule; you have the chance to sell one (1!!) item each month per district you have, for a maximum income of 14.25 BP/district/month. So if you turn items into direct income, you'll have to be very careful, or you will end up giving them far too much money.
Since the ACP doesn't apply to ability checks, no. If you replace the ability modifier with a modifier based on the average of various relevant skills, ACP would naturally apply as normal.
I'm not sure I agree. I guess it depends on what you believe the kingdom roll represents. For me, it's a summary of numerous interactions over days (or even months) resulting in certain outcomes. The leader weights in through numerous CHA-based checks, and he'd get the competence bonus on all those checks, so shouldn't he get it on the check that summarizes them all? If it were just a limited number of times a day, I would say hell no, but the bonus is always active. Of course the roll is so abstract in that it doesn't reference any skills at all, that you can read whatever you wish into it.
I don't see why the Circet wouldn't work, so I'd say yes.
As for spells, they will work, if you maintain the spells for at least 8 hours per day. That means if anything happens during a 'normal work day', like a kingdom event, those spell slots will be used up. So it's beyond the resources of a low level (<8) party, and by then they would probably have items than increase their key stat already, so castings would not give much, if any, benefit.
The bonus, without any downside, is too much. I'd say add a -4 AC and a concentration check if she wants to cast a spell instead of just attacking with her weapons, and perhaps a will save if she tries to peacefully interact with any goblins. Unlike a barbarians rage, she does not control her rage and should not be able to call it up at will It controls her and forces her into actions that might not be optimal.
As for NPC boons, Paize has a whole list of them published. It's from one of the NPC books, I think. Check the SRD for details. In general, cheaper accommodation and minor discounts are possible, but remember that the NPC covers the cost out of their own pocket, so how much would you discount your friends? A good meal costs 5 s/day in game, in modern terms I'd guess a days worth of good food costs between $25 and $50, so keep that in mind.
Book six is for 4 14th level 3.5 characters. Pathfinder characters are inherently more powerful and the number of players is so far off, that I'd be very surprised if anything could challenge you.
The hardcover will still be for 4 characters, so without conversion it still will be very easy for you.
You may want to suggest to your DM to use the 6 player conversion as base, and make it yet a bit more difficult, so that you get some challenge from the adventure. It would be a shame for such a great AP to be remembered as cakewalk. If nothing else tell the DM about your concerns.
The only problem I see with your version is that once things start happening in the capital, the Jade Regent and his terror troops won't care if the PCs show themselves in the public, but will start extremely harsh measures against any suspected rebel. While it does incite more hate, it also leaves those most able to oppose the Oni dead. Or worse, replaced, be it by oni, shapechangers, wizards, or whatever. All the time Ameiko's name will be all over the city; of course those that use it in a positive fashion when the Oni aren't distracted by something the party did, tend to disappear the same day.
What you are assuming is that the Jade Regent uses reasonable measures of reprisal and terror. You discount the fact that the final goal has precious little to do with a prosperous or healthy country and that humans and other races are to be about to become slaves, badly treated slaves at that, should Ameiko die and the seal be captured. The Jade Regent is literally willing to raze the city and slaughter all the people to find and kill the party. There are enough slaves elsewhere in the country, after all.
I wouldn't be surprised if 1% of the population was killed every day once the Regent realizes that the party has entered the capital. But maybe I see the situation a bit harsher than it truly is.
On another note, I'm not sure I would share the exact mechanics of Rebellion Points (or any other points in the AP) with players. The daily point loss would simply be the party seeing the bodies of sympathizers being burned on public squares and the smell of burning flesh thick in the air. But again, that image is probably harsher than what you imagine.
Yes, I know. So was I. But just because the murders are grisly doesn't mean that the population would see them as unjustified, especially if there was a lot of incriminating evidence found on site against the first two or three victims. The cult would be established as bringers of justice against rich criminals that use their money to evade justice. And every future victim would be assumed guilty, because they drew the attention of the vigilante cult.
So while the cult would be seen as evil in Sandpoint, once the players reach Magnimar, they could find the cult seen as some kind of local heroes that see justice done, even if many would consider them a tad brutal - however with rumors about mutilation being necessary to prevent certain magic, a surprising amount of people would be accepting of even that.
I can imagine Restov being happy to fund an evil city. I however couldn't see them happy funding a chaotic city; you never know what those kind of people would do.
And lets be realistic here, if the PC are psychotic, they'd never manage to get together a city, let alone a kingdom. But realistic evil groups? Isn't evil the alignment of politicians anyway?
Thanks, Rob, that makes getting the best result possible. I'll probably still devise a few more of my own events for the last module, so that it doesn't feel as rushed, but it will keep the pressure on. :)
If you're adding more points, I would also introduce more chances to loose them. The very best end should be something that is almost impossible to reach. I'd even go so far and say it should only be reachable if the players come up with ideas on their own that you think are worth points. Only very dedicated players that take the time to understand the local people and work with them, work for them, should really be able to get a great success.But that's just my take on it, of course.
As I see it there are two options. First is to go with Sloth, as mentioned above. Summoners were an 'elite' group among the forces of Sloth. Or maybe they are the result of breeding experiments done by that faction, like an attempt to create a conjuration sorcerer bloodline, or something.
Alternatively summoners could have been created by the first rune lord and served the nation as a whole, before they split into sub-groups.
A third option would be that Eidolons' are the remains of runeslaves and that descendants of runeslaves can somehow command the essence of rune slaves and use it for their purpose. Over the centuries the essence has been trained to act in certain ways and the Eidolon was born. The original discovery and training of the essence was probably done by Sloth-mages, but the results endure to modern time.
In any case, I'd completely redo the festering maze in the runeforge and rebuild it around summoners and their magic. Maybe create a few evolutions that the summoner could learn there with enough study, or even Eidolons that do not obey modern rules.
Shouldn't that be CHA 19 until level 8?
The best equipment depends on what you want to do with the character and how you want to develop him.
I guess that depends on the murder cult. If it appears that the murder cult goes after slavers and other criminals, especially if they are going after rich criminals (even if there are just rumors supporting so called crimes), the murder cult could be seen as the good guys by a large number of people.
Things to keep in mind when considering Varnhold and Drelev:
So both domains will develop very differently from the players kingdom.
Or the bridge may simply have been washed away. The Stolen lands should be riddled with hundreds of bridges (or their remains), but the land is pretty hostile to any kind of structure. So a flash flood washing away a bridge or a few houses wouldn't be unusual. And people seem to love building on natural flooding zones.
And if you ignore these four core goblin aspects, would you be playing a goblin?
Ameiko is going to be the queen, so it makes more sense that she actually does stuff. It certainly is better than her waiting at camp for the players to solve every problem. And it's certainly better than introducing yet more NPCs.
Uthak, how does your group handle absent players or replacements XP wise? I've seen a number of groups where everyone always has the same XP so that everyone levels at the same time. That certainly seems to be the norm by now, even if some of us don't agree.
I can only recommend that you talk to your GM in private if it really bugged you and ask him to consider such situations carefully in the future.
I'd go a slightly different route. Two characters is too little to withstand any AP. If one character is taken down or paralyzed, that's half the party. That makes it far more deadly than it would be for a normal 4 PC party.
So the PC should have higher point buy or an extra +2 to any attribute if you roll and I would also make him gestalt.
I'll second the idea of having the players have regular contact with Varnhold and have them come to an agreement for the western hexes on the Varnhold map before the vanishing.
It was certainly intended to be 25 xp/player/hex.
If the party is low, take the opportunity and introduce some custom content fitting for your party. Maybe they find the entrance to a dungeon or a group of (not hill-)giants comes from the mountains and causes trouble. If you can tie it to the players backstory or aims in the campaign it is even better.
I would certainly give them at least a year between books.
You should also remember that the AP is about Greed. In the second book there is a cult sacrificing greedy people... there's a good chance that anyone involved in locating/kidnapping slaves is a potential target. So the ranger may find a target already dead or a third party may drive him off when he tries to kill a target and he learns the next day that the target is now dead. Xanesha may even recruit him, giving him intelligence and perhaps money if he performs a certain ritual scarring before killing his targets.
* Only a cleric needs to be within one step of her gods alignment, so a N druid is no problem, though a druid of Desna in this region is an oddity.
In general, the AP can be run out of the book without real preparation like any canned adventure, but to really get the most out of it, you'll need to use the basic plot and begin your own story based on it. A good example is the very beginning. The AP assumes your party is together with the charter arriving at Oleg's. How they met, why they are together, and who gave them the charter or why is never touched upon. Yet that holds so much role playing potential that you should deal with it.
Xanesha is a rough fight, if the party decides to bash in through the front door. If they go through the tower, then yes, the fight is hard, and they will need luck to win.
If you think your party will simply smash through the front door and can't take her on, I'd add a wand of empowered dispel magic with a few charges.
While Shalelu is a NPC in Jade Regent, her background has no relevance whatsoever. Any generic NPC could fill her role, and just leaving her out wouldn't matter (except limit trait/relationship options a bit). So if you kill her off, nobody cares. Unless your players already like her, you might want to kill her off and replace her with an NPC the players care about anyway.
As for Ameiko, her role is more central, but there's an alternative NPC listed that can fill her role just as well. Maybe even better.
Turin, I would agree that such a subtle increase in their power would work, but was it really subtle? I mean, resurrecting thousands, practically rewinding time several hours (since that's how long some of them would have been dead) is perhaps something mortals would miss, but gods? Especially Pharasma should be very aware of what happened. So while I would agree that there is some taint in those returned, using that taint would actually attract more attention. Perhaps one of them will write down the play for future generations to find, but that's the extend to which I would use them.
Nothing the king in yellow touches remains pure... but I wouldn't call it evil. Corrupt, twisted, strange. Not evil. Perhaps more important, the Elder Gods are ancient and think far more long term. I'd build up the mood with all kinds of apocalyptic foreshadowing like Turin suggested, but when the time comes the demands are strange, minor, and apparently harmless.
The real horror is that the players know that something is going on that is beyond them, something they don't understand. The only price they see is the corruption from the artifact they created; maybe insanity, maybe a Warhammer style corruption (or gift of the ruinous powers) if you have access to the books. And yet it's too powerful and useful not to use. And try to present the supposed target as something good, something the players may already want to do.
The Elder Gods are not about open displays of power; no mortal can challenge them, after all. And where's the fun in destroying the campaign with an apocalypse? Even if the players win, they'd be left with ashes of a former kingdom.
The problem I see is that neither of the first two books is tied in any way to the Stone Giants. It's tied via runewells and sacrifices to power them to The Runelord. You will have to work through everything carefully to weave in new threats that tie everything together.
As for sins... that's an ancient concept based on a corruption of the virtues of rule. But it's ancient history, so ancient that we have only a few ruins remaining. It has no impact on the present. Or perhaps better, it has about as much impact on the present as ancient Egypt has on Earth now.
Maybe to tie everything together, the runelord isn't captures in his capital, but instead bound to an item than Mokmurian has acquired and he forced him to cooperate, somehow. And now the players end up with a runelord captive that is trying to escape and be reborn.
I can see that working if the players stay very close to the printed material and don't go beyond it. But what happens if for ten or more sessions there's diplomatic meetings and intrigue in Brevoy and Mivon, with spy missions and other stuff they want to do thrown in? Kingmaker is a lot about being able to follow where the players want to go, and if you only level for story points that you predict, let alone only story points given in the adventure, you'll discourage the players from doing anything but passively following the plot. They should be rewarded, not penalized, for becoming part of the world! That's what makes Kingmaker better/different from other APs.
On the other side you have players that jump ahead. In Varnhold Vanishing they could buy a scroll and locate the tomb fairly easily and teleport to very near the big boss, before any other encounter or event takes place; so do they get two levels for the two spells they cast? Because that's where they are story wise now...
I agree with Varnhold. Look at the army costs and it becomes clear that they couldn't build up further. And to make matters worse, farms were so exposed that Centaurs and other critters made all attempts at farming suicidal.
Drelev is even easier. Unrest. The Unrest is so high that not only do they fail almost all checks, but they've lost most hexes they had claimed and local critters have destroyed what farms there were. And like Varnhold, they needed more military power from the start to deal with local dangers - barbarians, bogards, etc.
Do not forget that there have been dozens if not hundreds of attempts to settle for Stolen Lands. All failed. The players are the first group that beat the odds and manage to create something that might last.
The kingdom building rules may make success too easy on the players, but that's necessary to allow casual gamers to succeed. Likewise the players are always confronted with only one or two situations at a time. That's the key here - the rules as presented are a simplification stacked in the players favor to allow casual gamers to enjoy kingdom building and succeed without any optimization and little planing; everyone else operated by the harsher rules. If you have a group that is willing to go beyond the basics, the rules need to be toughened up; toughened to the degree that success becomes a real struggle and repeated heroics are necessary just to starve of failure. That would be a far better representation of the Stolen Lands... but also too harsh for most players to enjoy; campaigns would fail not because of TPK or loss of interest, but because kingdoms failed. Would that be fun?
First of I have to strongly disagree with xn0o0cl3. This AP is the worst suited for doing away with the XP system, because players can just jump ahead in the story and could end up leveling twice in a session with just minor combat and then not again for twenty more sessions. At the very best you would have very annoyed players.
What XP progression is recommended? That depends on how you run the game. How much XP do you award for role playing? How interested is your group in role playing? How much time do you have? How much stuff will you add to the core the books present? How much will the players be into diplomacy? Into interacting with other kingdoms? How much do they invest in the larger story? What else will you add to flesh out the area and story?
If you run as is, medium track works fine. If your players invest into the world and really use the sandbox to tell their own story and you give them the tools they need, Slow or even slower XP progression works better.
Well, XP are easy. It's a trap, a trap is worth it's CR in XP, no matter how you go around it, pass through it, or how many times you set it off.
Now, if I were DM, I might give an RP reward, if the scouts blundered into the trap because they acted on their character knowledge alone and set off the trap because there was no way for the characters to know there was a trap. After all, just because the players just saw you fight lions three times does not mean that their characters have any idea what's going on. So that might be worth an award. But simple fighting is not.
Having the sponsor of the exploration/settlement a sea voyage away would IMHO strengthen the settlement story, however I find it hard to believe that bandits would prosper... at least not until there are numerous minor colonies trading with one another.
Module six needs very little if any modification.
Of course a lot depends on the background that leads to the story; where the continent is, what powers are trying to move there, etc.
First I'd expand the list of awards for kingdom building. As in a reward for every 50 additional hexes, rewards for having 5 cities, 10 cities, X cities, having a full grid in 5 cities, 10 cities, X cities, having 2, 5, 10, X grids in a city.
Second, how do the players and the rest of the people learn of Choral's return? How does he proof his identity? That might provide some story ideas.
Looking at Carrion Crown, in the first book there are XP rewards for research. So having some rewards for the players researching Choral and his allies could provide XP in a somewhat different manner than they are used to.
During the research they could come upon a legend of a weapon forged against Choral. This could be the result of a project started by Restov, but not finished in time for the final battle, or it might have been present at the battle. It could also be an artifact that is somehow connected with Choral; maybe they find an ancient prophecy linking Choral's demise and the artifact. So hunting down the item could provide a high level dungeon.
As Choral is aware of Nyrissa, he from the beginning worries more about the player party than any army; he knows he can overpower any army, but doesn't want to slaughter so many of his future slaves. So he plans and plots to minimize casualties while taking out the only real threats directly. He might use demons, human assassins, or just about anything else. Maybe use an army of giants coming down from the mountains towards Varnhold as bait for the party; use several waves of giants and other stuff to wear down the party, before a hostile adventuring party from the rival guide comes in for the kill.
Unconnected, or maybe not, a host from the Worldwound breaks through the line of defenders and spreads chaos through the region. While they won't reach the players kingdom, their neighbors will be destroyed without help.
With the players taking over Pitax, they infringe on the River Kingdoms. Lots of possibility of intrigue there; maybe the players decide to make a land grab against some of the less friendly neighbors in the south before Choral returns? A few provocations from the neighbor (or a third party wishing for that war) may be enough to get a good number of sessions; and it should give the players the feeling that they are driving where the campaign is headed.
A team of explorers has worked in Vordekai's tomb for months and removed many artifacts of historic significance; while the pathfinder society is present and supporting the effort, it's headed by people loyal to the kingdom, and when they discover a new secret door, they immediately send word back - the PS isn't pleased, but after Vordekai also worried about what might be hidden there.
Has the party dealt with the tower on Candlemere island? If not, there's now a cult there, and they have woken something.
A messenger delivers a warded box (Warding Box minor artifact - no way to tell what's inside the box) to the party from an unknown party. Inside is the seal of Amatatsu (Jade Regent AP). Opening the box at all attracts the attention of the Oni, and an assault group teleports with orders to kill anyone present and steal the seal. Now the players may need to find the heir, return the seal, and get them on a journey to deal with the Jade Regent, if they ever wish for peace. They could maybe go themselves, but it'd mean abandoning everything they have built... you need to judge if the players would do that. It's intended as a constant hazard to the kingdom until they find the heir and send her with a well equipped party north; after a while, depending on how the other party traveled, the attacks stop and they get a good friend far away.
A mysterious plague sweeps through the kingdom. Even casual investigation shows magical involvement in the spread of the disease. Is this some kind of revenge from beyond the grave by Nyrissa, or something else?
A mage that's lived in the kingdom for years goes missing and his golems run amok. What happened to the mage, and where did he get that much adamantine?
During the clearing for a new city district ancient ruins are found. Historians connect them to the Whispering Tyrant. Is there an army of undead inside, as the panicked population thinks, or is this merely a burial site used by the Shining Crusade?
I hope you'll find some useful ideas in this brainstorming.
Could you explain why the PC turned against his party?
Are you certain? I mean, Batman dresses up like a bat and swings around the city, constantly messing up crime scenes and chain of evidence, and so on. Are you sure he has a Wisdom above ten? Six, maybe.
There are some more ideas...
5) Surtova is cautious and 'secures' Restov first and then Varnhold to isolate the players and have secure supply bases. And while his army is in Varnhold, the whole town, inculding army, just vanishes. The loss of the elite army spreads panic and unrest through Brevoy and just about everyone interested in concessions takes this as open invitation to come out in the open.
6) Nyrissa doesn't want Brevoy involved in the Stolen Lands, so while Surtova's eyes look south, a number of other incidents pop up everywhere else.
7) Surtova rides south with the army and someone uses the opportunity to assassinate him.
8) A Wyrm White Dragon comes from the north and demands fealty. Brevoy's forces manage to drive of the Wyrm several times, each time at great loss of life, but they never manage to land the killing blow. Surtova simply has no troops to spare to handle the players. Of course the situation won't last too long.
I have to agree. With 5 PCs and better attributes a level or two below recommended will not automatically cause problems.
If the players power through the extra encounters, they shouldn't have trouble with the rest of the tomb, and should probably have enough XP to level.
Do they have enough treasure? There's a lot of treasure at the end, but they might at this point be a bit low, especially for a five person party, making things a bit harder than their level suggests. Maybe they could stumble upon another cave complex (and maybe even confuse it with the tomb) and get some XP and treasure there.
In general I wouldn't be worried, but after they lost two a bit earlier, I can see that there might be problems in party and character builds.